LP: The Black Album by the Damned
1985 Big Beat Records DAM 3, 1980 Chiswick Records CWK 3015
Favorite Track: History of the World (Part One)
I hate this time of year. My father went and bought himself that Sriracha cookbook and seven Hawaiian shirts for the cruise in April. My mother wants me to be six again so she can hide presents in the basement ceiling. My siblings have already gifted themselves with what they really wanted. Thanks Amazon for reducing the holiday spirit to a couple of mouse clicks. At least, I don’t have to get up early, scrap the ice from the windows, heat the car, and deal with holiday shoppers (the worst) and holiday parking (somehow worse).
But, most troubling of all, is my friend Adam. No one has ever bought him a record as a gift before so I thought I would surprise him this year. But now I see why people buy him goofy socks and blank journals. He’s got everything.
Original presses of the Ramones Leave Home and Rocket to Russia? Check. Buy by the Contortions? Two copies. Big Lizard in My Backyard? Has that too. White Riot 7-inch with iconic photograph of the Clash up against the wall? I was there when he found it in Milwaukee. It’s like the kid has some kind of radar device that tells him something rare and expensive is right around the corner.
There has to be some missing link in his collection, some glaring omission, some secret vinyl fantasy. I’ll ask him tonight at trivia. Our team, Strictly Anal, has been on a hot streak recently. Of course, Adam came up with that name. Sometimes I think he has a screw loose.
One of the most seminal punk bands in history and he has not a thing. This is almost so obvious it is embarrassing I have never noticed it before. He confessed that he even he has no idea why they are hard to find. But he has never searched Amazon for records. (Actually that is untrue, he would tell me later he bought one record from Amazon. He felt mildly dirty but was very happy with the purchase. He could spend his whole life going to stores and never find it and the thought was absolutely terrifying to him. When he played me the album, it was terrifying to me. Again, loose screw.)
It is my lucky day. My favorite Damned album, the Black Album, is for sale, used. He is going to “hit the egg and go through it” as he always says. I should get him some consulting for Christmas instead. I can’t wait to give this to him. Well, maybe I am starting to love this time of year.
I hate this time of year. Adam just called me up laughing and telling me to come over quick. There is something wrong with the Black Album but he won’t say what. I throw my heavy coat and scarf on, put Zeeva back in her cage, and slide over to his tiny apartment on Ludlow. He has the album in his hands, a shiny darkness in a brightly lit room. “You’re never going to believe this,” he presses play. The grey Big Beat label begins to spin. Guitars kick in, but it is some rockabilly riff. Some horns back up a bluesy voice singing about his new girl loving him the night and day. This is no New Rose. No waiting for the blackout, hit or miss, therapy. Adam is smiling at me and pouring me a glass of dark porter.
Drunknow thoroughly after a night of drunk listening to Wire and the Misfits. Back on Amazon. Good. The Chiswick version of the Black Album is still listed. A LP double. Live tracks drunk. A pea pod is popping off if this isn’t the Damned. What the hell was Adam going on about? And why would that not be the real Black Album? Is there some drunk dark conspiracy to rip record collectors off? Okay, I got an email confirmation that this Chiswick one is legit. Hiccup.
This is a truly love and hate season.